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Another headache for Hariri

Sure, there are plenty of people who have it worse than billionaire Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. But as someone whose government is marginalized in large parts of Lebanon, whose interests are ignored internationally, and who — if the history of his country and his family is any guide — faces good odds of meeting ...

Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images
Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images

Sure, there are plenty of people who have it worse than billionaire Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. But as someone whose government is marginalized in large parts of Lebanon, whose interests are ignored internationally, and who — if the history of his country and his family is any guide — faces good odds of meeting a violent death, there are also plenty of people who have it better than Sheikh Saad. The latest headache came today, with the news that the Lebanese army had opened fire on Israeli jets flying over the country.

This isn’t a novel development: Israeli warplanes have continued to violate  Lebanese airspace since the 2006 war, and the Lebanese army continues to periodically fire at them, and miss. But for Hariri, who attended his first U.N. Security Council meeting today and spent Monday and Tuesday in Washington, where U.S. military assistance to Lebanon was on the docket, the timing couldn’t be worse.

It’s a no-win situation. If Hariri wants to keep military aid flowing to Lebanon, he needs to convince U.S. lawmakers that a strengthened Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) will contribute to regional peace. That just became harder. And Hariri can’t simply order the army not to target Israeli planes — he’s still trying to build bridges to Syria and Hezbollah, and his own Sunni community wouldn’t stand for it. As with Hassan Nasrallah’s fire-and-brimstone speech yesterday, the prime minister keeps finding the spotlight wrested away from him during his big trip.

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